Friday, 14 August 2009

Varsity Blues look to take next step

For four of his first five seasons as Head Coach, Mike Katz's University of Toronto Varsity Blues have been on the precipice of breaking into the very upper echelons of the CIS scene, only to suffer heartbreaking losses to teams which subsequently move on to and/or win the Nationals. In many respects, Varsity's recent plight can be compared to the Toronto Blue Jays, who happen to compete in the same division as two of baseball's perennial World Series contenders in the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Playing in virtually any other division other than the OUA East, the Blues would likely have already qualified for at least one, maybe multiple, nationals over the last 5 seasons but for the presence of Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees. With the significant graduation loss incurred by the Ravens and Gee-Gees combined with a veteran, returning U of T roster, this season presents Coach Katz and his program to qualify and make noise at the Nationals, something U of T men's basketball hasn't done since the Ken Olynyk-led Blues made the national semi-finals in 1995-96 led by the Dressler twins, Eddy Megeurian and Andrew Rupf.

Toronto's strength is in the backcourt with a pair of senior, all-conference candidate guards in 6'2" Rob Paris and 6'2" Nick Magalas. Paris, who is ideal knocking down open looks running off multiple screens in the Blues varied offensive sets and Magalas, who handles like a "1" and can score like a "2", give Toronto 35+ minutes of high quality guard play every night. Emerging point guard Anthony DeGiorgio continues to mature and looks to earn the floor time required to have the ball in his hands at key points in games.

The Blues have a veteran group up front led by 6'7" Nick Snow, now a veteran, and 6'4" Pat Sewell, who has a solid year of CIS play under his belt after transfering from Fanshawe College (OCAA). Snow, who has played most of his career with a bad back supported by a flack jacket, when right is very good getting his shot off inside and hitting shots out beyond the 3 point arc. 6'6" Drazen Glizic made large strides as a CIS post last season, especially on the glass and big, burly 6'6" Andrew Wasik takes up alot of space and may be one of the strongest posts in the conference. The Blues were hurt by the loss of emerging 6'6" forward Ahmed Nazmi, who made tremendous strides as a CIS post player after seeing virtually no time earlier in his career, turning in sometimes-dominant performances including some posterizing dunks. However, Nazmi has decided to focus on his family business and is not likely to play this season as a result. Varsity also lost Nick's brother Seb Magalas, who provided depth in the back court, to concentrate on a career with the football Blues.

Toronto's top recruit is 6'3" Dakota Laurin, a long-armed and deceptively athletic wing from Calgary, who played for Calgary Elite program at several USA-based tournaments. According to the club's web site, Laurin considered opportunities to play at the NCAA Div II level and walk on offers from Div I schools, but cited the U of T coaching staff, as well as its academic reputation, as key factors in his decision to play with the Blues. Last season's top recruit, Ben Garvin, and sharp shooter Justin Holmes add depth to the Blues roster.

Toronto has a Labour Day weekend game with Chattanooga, an NCAA Division 1 school and also has a couple of tournaments scheduled in the USA plus a visit to Ottawa for the Jack Donohue Memorial Tip-Off tournament.

1 comment: said...

Nice update the varsity blues have been close for a while, hopefully they can get over the hump. I've added this article to feel free to submit future articles to the community for others to see!